A Childhood Reminiscence.
A Childhood Reminiscence
T. K. Crandall
It was summer. The sun was blazing, and a few wispy clouds drifted by in the light blue sky. The air was thick with humidity. The birds were out singing their songs. It was the kind of day that when you were a kid, you thought it would never end. Those were the best summer days. But today was about to get even better; Mom was taking us to a special place.
Up to this point, my day consisted of playing in the neighborhood with friends. We played baseball in the field, threw a football around, we rode our bikes, and played down by the creek - it was a typical day for a kid on summer break in West Michigan in the '90s.
When lunchtime came around Mom asked, as she was rinsing the grape jelly off a knife, "Do you want to go to the pool in a little while?"
I, of course, responded with "Heck yeah!" Then immediately followed that up with "Who else is going?"
"Why don't you go see if Kevin and Kelly want to go too." Mom replied.
"Okay!" I said as I started to get out of my chair. "After you eat!" she said as she was rounding the counter and extending the PB&J in my direction. "Okay!" I said, as I grabbed the sandwich and took a bite.
Once I finished my lunch, I set out to see if my brother and sister wanted to go swimming too. It was almost pointless to ask them, of course, they were going to go too. I could feel my excitement build inside me as I thought about the fun that we were going to have at the pool!
A little while later, I heard my Mom call, "Are you ready?"
We all reply in sequence "Yep!"
"Okay, make sure you have your towels and swimsuits in your bag and get your bikes ready," she said.
"Bikes?" I said, as I thought to myself the only pool that I know of is at the school, which was several miles away. We'd never make it in this heat!
Mom said, "Yes your bikes, we are going to a different pool, one that is a little closer, I think you guys will like it."
Not quite sure what to expect we all said "Okay."
Over the years there was a route we used to take when we'd go on walks with Mom and our dogs, and that was the way this trip to the pool started. "I never knew there was a pool this way," I said.
"There is." Mom said, "It's down a road we usually don't take on our walks."
The ride there was filled with chit chat about what we were going to do once we got in the water. The air was still hot and the only relief you could get was from peddling the bike harder to create a little wind. The smells of hot pavement along with tall grass and dirt filled my nose at different points along the ride.
The pool was about three blocks from our street. It was located at the end of a cul-de-sac and it was set back and hidden by trees so you couldn't see it from the road. As we were pulling up the driveway you could hear kids screaming and having fun, the sounds of the water splashing soon could be heard as well.
"We're going to an outdoor pool?" I asked, shocked. "This is awesome!"
Kevin and Kelly were equally excited too.
Mom just smiled.
Near the gate, a sign read "Dolphin Swim Club". As we peddled up the driveway, I remember the sharp smell of the newly refinished black-top parking lot, which then started to mix with the chlorine from the pool. Once we got to the parking lot, there was an immediate wave of constant heat that radiated fiercely off the black-top.
"We're here!" Mom said.
"Awesome!" Kevin and Kelly replied as I followed suit, struggling to keep my eyes open from the searing heat.
The swimming area consisted of a cement patio with lounge chairs that lined the "L" shaped pool. It had the main swimming area that was separated by a rope from the deep end which had a small diving board. The Dolphin pool was unique for me because that was the first outdoor pool I remember going to. Tall grasses and trees surrounded the perimeter of the pool which created an atmosphere where crickets chirped loudly, and birds sang happily as they flew from branch to branch. Everybody and everything in that little area were filled with happiness during those moments. The pool took on a life of its own.
Mom usually spent half of her time soaking up the sun; she always tanned easily. The other half of her time there was spent taking short swims with us. Us kids spent most of our time playing in the pool. That usually consisted of jumping off the diving board, diving for weighted rings, and just splashing around being kids in a pool.
As the evening approached, Mom would call out "Okay kids, it's about that time!" This was usually followed up with the classic, "Five more minutes, pleeaase?" from each of us. To which Mom almost always replied, "Okay, but only five minutes." Through all that sun and fun, it was easy to work up quite an appetite, so we always looked forward to getting home and helping Dad grill the burgers and hotdogs, while Mom whipped up her famous potato salad. Ah yes, those were the days.
Years later I visited the pool again with my Mom, but it has long since been closed. We pulled into the parking lot, the driveway was much shorter than I remember, and not nearly as secluded. The black-top now faded grey with weeds growing through the abundant cracks. The pool was mostly empty aside from where the deep end had collected rainwater runoff which resulted in a blackish-brown liquid not suitable for swimming in, and the tiles that lined the pool were sunbaked and faded. Weeds were overrunning the pool patio. The small building that housed the shower rooms and the attendant booth were all boarded up. The pool that provided the community with joy and relief from that blazing sun now sat in desperate hopes of some relief itself.